The Constitution of India is the supreme law of India. It provides the framework for the governance of the country and lays down Fundamental rights, directive principles, and the Fundamental duties of citizens. It is applicable to all citizens regardless of race, place of birth, religion, caste or gender. Constitutional basics are often lost in a sea of political debates and discussions. This article is designed to give you a basic grasp on what exactly is the constitution and why it matters to you.

The members of the Constituent Assembly of India were tasked with drafting the Constitution of India; a document that redefined governance in South Asia, and today is celebrated as a guiding force for government policy and law in countries around the world. On July 9th, 1947, India gained independence from British rule under the leadership of Mohandas 'Mahatma' Gandhi. On November 26th, 1949, the Constitution of India was adopted by the Constituent Assembly of India, formally ushering in an era where power was shared between federal and state governments. 

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Framing of the Constitution

  • The idea to have Constitution was given by M.N. Roy (A  pioneer of Communist Movement in India)
  • The present constitution was framed by the Constituent Assembly of India setup under Cabinet Mission Plan of May 16, 1946.

Composition of constituent assembly

i) The constituent assembly consisted of 389 members, of which 292 were elected by the elected members of the Princely States. A representative from each of the four Chief Commissioners Provinces of Delhi, Ajmer- Marwar, Coorg and British Baluchistan was also added.

ii) Each Province and each Indian State or group of States were allotted the total number of seats proportional to their respective population roughly in the ration of one to a million.

iii) The seats in each province were distrubuted among the three main commutities - Muslim, Sikh, and General, in proportion to theri resspective populations.

iv) Members of each mommunity in the Prov incial Legislative Assembly Elected their own representatives by the method of proportional representation with single transferable vote.

v) The method of selection in the case of representatives of Indian States waw to be determinded by consultation.

vi) But when the Muslim League decided to withdraw its members from the Constituent Assembly for Pakistan on July 16, 1947, the membership of the Constituent Assembly fo India was reduced to 299, out of which 229 represented the provinces and 70 were nominated by the Princely States.

Committees of Constituent Assembly

The Constituent Assembly appointed a number of committees to deal with different tasks of constitution - making. Out of these, eight were major committees and the others fifteen were minor committees. Among all the committees of the Constituent assembly, the most important committee was the Drafting Committee.

Major Committees

i) Union Powers Committee - Jawaharlal Nehru

ii) Union Constitution Committee - Jawaharlal Nehru

iii) Provincial Constitution Committee - Sardar Patel

iv) Drafting Committee - Dr. B.R. Ambedkar

v) Advisory committee on Fundamental Rights and Minorities - Sardar Patel. This committee had two sub-committees: a) Fundamental Rights Sub-Committee - J.B. Kripalani, b) Minorities Sub-Committee - H.C. Mukherjee

vi) Rules of Prcedure Committee - Dr. Rajendra Prasad.

vii) Stes Committee (Committee for Negotiating with states) - Jawaharlal Nehru

viii) Steering Committee - Dr. Rajendra Prasad

Minor Committees

i) Committee on the Functions of the Constituent Assembly - G.V. Mavalankar

ii) Order of Business Committee - Dr. K.M. Munshi

iii) House committee - B. Pattabhi Sitaramaya

iv) Ad-hoc Committee on the National Flag - Dr. Rajendra Prasad

v) Special Committee to Examine the Draft Constitution - Alladi Krishnaswamy Ayyar

vi) Credentials Committee - Alladi Krishnaswamy Ayyar

vii) Finance and Staff Committee - Dr. Rajendra Prasad

viii) Hindi Translation Committee

ix)  Urdu Translation Committee

x) Press Gallery committee

xi) Committee to Examine the Effect of Indian Independence Act of 1947

xii) Committee on Chief Commissioner's Provinces - B. Pattabhi Sitaramayya

xiii) Commission on Linguistic Provinces - B. Pattabhi Sitaramayya

xiv) Expert Committee on Finance Provisions

xv) Ad-hoc Committee on the Supreme Court - S. Varadachariar

Among all the committees of the Constituent Assembly, the most important committee was the Drafting Committee

Drafting Committee

Drafting Committee, which bore the responsibility of drafting the Constitutional document during the recess of the Constituent Assembly, from july 1947 to Sept 1948, was formed on Aug 29, 1947. Its Members were:

1. Dr.B.R.Ambedkar -- Chairman

2. N. Gopalaswami Ayyangar

3. Alladi Krshnaswami Ayyar ( a distinguished jurist)

4. K.M. Munshi( a distinguished jurist)

5. Syyed Mohd. Saadulla

6. N. Madhav Rao (in place of BL Mitra)

7. D.P.Khaitan (T Krishnamachari, after khaitan's death in 1948).

Functioning of the Constituent Assembly

   ⦁ B N Rao was appointed the constitutional advisor of the Assembly.

   ⦁ The first meeting of the Constituent Assembly look place on Dec 9, 1946 with Dr.Sachidanand Sinha as its interim President. Dr. Rajendra Prasad was elected as its  President on Dec 11, 1946.

Enactment of the Constitution

   ⦁ The Drafting Committee prepared the draft of the Constitution, which came out in the open on Feb 4, 1948 (first reading) to elicit the public opinion and reaction to it. The assembly had a general discussion on it for five days.

   ⦁ The Constituent Assembly next met on Nov 15, 1948 when the provisions of the Draft were considered and discussed in detail (second reading). During this stage, as many as 7,653 amendments were proposed and 2,473 were actually discussed in the Assembly.

   ⦁ The third reading of the draft started on Nov 14, 1949. It was finally passed and accepted on Nov 26, 1949. The last session of the assembly was held on Jan 24, 1950, which unanimously elected Dr. Rajendra Prasad as the President of India. In all, 284 members of the Assembly signed the official copies of the Indian Constitution which came into effect on Jan 26, 1950, known and celebrated as the Republic Day of India.

   ⦁ The Constitution, adopted on Nov 26, 1949, contained a Preamle, 395 articles and 8 scheduled (12 at present ).

   ⦁ Constituent Assembly took 2 years -11 months - 18 days to complete the constitution.

   ⦁ Although Constitution was ready on Nov 26, 1949 but was delayed till Jan 26, 1950 because in 1929 on this day Indian National Congress demanded 'Poorna Swaraj' in Lahore session Under J.L.Nehru.

   ⦁ Constituent Assembly adopted our National Flag on July 22, 1947. It was designed by Pingali Venkaiah of Andrhra Pradesh.

Constitutional Development in India
The history of the Constitutional Development in India can be traced back to the Regulating Act of 1773, which for the first time made the provision for the post of Governor -General in India. Since then a number of constitutional experiments were introduced aiming at streamling the Indian Administration.

However, the year 1858 serves as watershed when the Indian Adminnistration came under the direct rule of the British crown and the centralization of the administration was at its pinnacle. Thus the periond of British constitutional development experiment in India can be divided into teo pases: 
  • Constitutional experiments during the rule of the East India Company (1773 - 1857)
  • Constitutional experiments under the British Crown (1857 - 1947).